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Global Stocks Slide, Futures Flat As China Sanctions Lockheed, Virus Fears Grow

Global Stocks Slide, Futures Flat As China Sanctions Lockheed, Virus Fears Grow



Global Stocks Slide, Futures Flat As China Sanctions Lockheed, Virus Fears Grow Tyler Durden Tue, 07/14/2020 - 06:53

European and Asian stocks slumped following Monday's dramatic Nasdaq reversal, following a fresh escalation in the US-China cold war, and as investors weighed the risks of the upcoming earnings season even as rising virus cases prompted more states to resume shutdowns. Treasuries were flat and the dollar was modestly higher.

S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures were generally flat after yesterday's freak late day selloff, even as Tesla climbed in pre-market trading following yet another ridiculous upgrade, this time from some bucket shop which sees the stock rising above $2,300.

“We are marginally risk-off today, driven by the dive into the close in the U.S.,” said Charles Diebel, head of fixed income at Mediolanum International Funds. “The real worrying aspect for the market really is that the rise in U.S. infections will make people behave like a lockdown even if they are opening up.”

Market sentiment took a hit from signs the virus is throttling reopening plans in states like California, and concern that equity valuations are stretched with global stocks trading near pre-pandemic highs according to Bloomberg.

Tensions between Washington and Beijing also escalated further after the United States rejected China’s disputed claims to offshore resources in most of the South China Sea. Meanwhile, in a surprisingly sharp escalation in tensions, China said it would impose sanctions on Lockheed Martin after the U.S. approved a possible $620 million deal for Taiwan to buy parts to refurbish defensive missiles made by the company. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian made the announcement at a briefing in Beijing on Tuesday. He called on the U.S. to cut military ties with Taiwan - which China considers part of its territory - to avoid “further harm to bilateral relations.”

“China firmly opposes U.S. arms sales to Taiwan,” Zhao said. “We will impose sanctions on the main contractor of this arms sale, Lockheed Martin.”

The news sent the offshore Yuan, which had risen sharply in recent weeks, to session lows and back under 7.00.

Meanwhile, traders are braced for earnings reports this week that will provides clues on the outlook for corporate profits. Q2 earnings season is set to officially begin in a few minutes, when JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup, which have substantial lending businesses, report Q2 earnings and could see a sharp plunge in net income in the April-June quarter that witnessed the biggest blow to businesses activity. JPM and CITI shares edged higher in premarket trading, while Wells Fargo which is expected to swing to a loss, was flat.

Earlier in the session, Asian stocks fell, led by communications and health care, after rising in the last session. Most markets in the region were down, with India's S&P BSE Sensex Index dropping 1.6% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index falling 1.1%, while Jakarta Composite gained 0.3%. Trading volume for MSCI Asia Pacific Index members was 31% above the monthly average for this time of the day. The Topix declined 0.5%, with Niitaka and Chuco falling the most. Even the Shanghai Composite Index retreated 0.8%, ending its stunning rally over the past two weeks, with Inzone Group Co Ltd and Sino-Platinum posting the biggest slides.

In the latest US-Sino escalation, the Trump administration rejected China’s expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea, reversing a previous policy of not taking sides in such disputes. The Trump administration also plans to scrap a 2013 auditing agreement that could foreshadow a broader crackdown on U.S.-listed Chinese firms

In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index inched up after the euro rose in early European hours, with options traders seeing scope for more gains. The Swedish krona led G-10 gains after data showed inflation beat estimates last month.

In rates, the 10Y Treasury was modestly lower with the yield rising to 0.6283% after tumbling yesterday during the sharp Nasdaq selloff. The yield on the U.K.’s two- year bonds declined to an all-time low of minus 0.129% amid weaker global sentiment; the yield is for the first time lower than its Japanese peer.

In commodities,  West Texas Intermediate crude rebounded 0.7% to $39.83 a barrel, while Brent crude gained 0.7% to $42.48 a barrel. Copper ended a six-day winning streak amid renewed tensions between Beijing and Washington.

To the day ahead now, and the data highlights from Europe include the May readings of UK GDP and Euro Area industrial production, as well as July’s ZEW survey from Germany. Over in the US, there’ll be the June CPI reading, along with the NFIB small business optimism index. Earnings releases feature a number of US financials, including JPMorgan, Citigroup and Wells Fargo, while we’ll also hear from the Fed’s Brainard and Bullard.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.3% to 3,157.50
  • STOXX Europe 600 down 1.3% to 365.69
  • MXAP down 0.8% to 164.77
  • MXAPJ down 1% to 544.23
  • Nikkei down 0.9% to 22,587.01
  • Topix down 0.5% to 1,565.15
  • Hang Seng Index down 1.1% to 25,477.89
  • Shanghai Composite down 0.8% to 3,414.62
  • Sensex down 1.6% to 36,094.68
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.6% to 5,941.08
  • Kospi down 0.1% to 2,183.61
  • German 10Y yield fell 1.5 bps to -0.432%
  • Euro down 0.04% to $1.1340
  • Italian 10Y yield rose 1.0 bps to 1.109%
  • Spanish 10Y yield fell 1.4 bps to 0.43%
  • Brent futures down 0.7% to $42.41/bbl
  • Gold spot down 0.2% to $1,798.98
  • U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 96.52

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • Investors dampened their expectations about the rebound in Germany, adding to signs that it still has a long road ahead as it recovers from the coronavirus lockdowns in the first half of the year
  • WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said “there will be no return to the old normal for the foreseeable future”
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel showed a united front with Italy’s Giuseppe Conte days ahead of a crucial European Union summit, warning that EU leaders need to deliver a “massive” response to the economic fallout of the pandemic
  • China said it would impose sanctions on Lockheed Martin Corp. after the U.S. approved a possible $620 million deal for Taiwan to buy parts to refurbish defensive missiles
  • Saudi Arabia commended Iraq for implementing almost all its pledged oil-production cuts and Nigeria told the kingdom it was committed to hitting its target, in further signs that disputes among OPEC+ members over cheating of quotas are being resolved

Asian equity markets traded negatively with sentiment dampened following choppy performance stateside owing to a temperamental tech sector and ongoing US-China tensions after the US denounced China's claims to the South China Sea as unlawful. Furthermore, sentiment was also subdued by the latest developments on the coronavirus front in which California Governor Newsom ordered a shutdown of indoor restaurants, bars, movie theatres and other businesses across the state. ASX 200 (-0.6%) and Nikkei 225 (-0.9%) were lower with Australia pressured by underperformance in the tech sector but with downside restricted by the improvement in Business Survey data, while Tokyo shares suffered the ill-effects of the recent currency inflows and despite reports that Softbank was exploring options for its Arm Holdings unit such as a potential sale or IPO. Hang Seng (-1.1%) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.8%) adhered to the downbeat picture due to the increased tensions after the US departed from its policy of not taking sides in the South China Sea dispute in which it denounced China’s claims, while China's Foreign Ministry said it will impose sanctions on US lawmakers in response to sanctions over Xinjiang. Focus was also on the latest trade data from China which printed mostly better than expected, although this failed to inspire a turnaround for Chinese stocks with Hong Kong underperforming after the local government’s recent announcement of coronavirus related restrictions. Finally, 10yr JGBs were marginally higher as the risk averse tone favoured haven assets and after stronger demand at the enhanced liquidity auction for longer-dated JGBs, but with upside limited as the BoJ kicked off its 2-day policy meeting.

Top Asian News

  • Modi’s Fuel-Tax Hikes Are Putting Brakes on India’s Recovery
  • Korea Looking Into H.K. Hedge Fund That Halted Some Withdrawals
  • Morgan Stanley’s Head of Asia Flow Credit Trading Leaves Firm
  • China Posts Surprise Trade Gains as Economies Try to Reopen

European equities have pulled back from yesterday’s advances (Eurostoxx 50 -1.5%) as indices catch-up to the declines seen on Wall St. yesterday after the EU close. No one individual catalyst was attributed to the sell-off seen in the latter half of the US session yesterday with many of the bearish factors cited already present at the time of the initial rally. However, one feature of the selling pressure yesterday was an emphasis on tech names; a theme which has been replicated today in Europe with the IT sector the clear underperformer thus far as the likes on Infineon (-4.8%), STMicroelectronics (-4.5%) and SAP (-3.9%) all lag peers. Macro newsflow from a European perspective has been relatively light thus far with focus for the equity complex likely to fall on upcoming pre-market US earnings reports from JP Morgan, Well Fargo, Citi and Delta Airlines (previews of key metrics can be found on the newsquawk headline feed). Elsewhere, stateside, focus could fall on defense names after reports the Chinese Foreign Ministry intends to apply sanctions to Lockheed Martin (-1.1% in pre-market) over arms sales to Taiwan. Elsewhere in Europe, sectors trade broadly lower with no real clear theme seen in the focus of selling asides from the IT sector with individual equity stories on the light side this morning. Notable corporate updates have included Ocado (-0.8%), who trade lower despite reporting a 27% increase in revenues with the Co. unable to provide guidance and announcing the search for a new Chairman & CEO to replace “retail veteran” Lord Rose.

Top European News

  • Merkel and Conte Show Common Front in Push for Recovery Fund
  • Italy’s Conte Keeps Investors Guessing on Autostrade’s Fate
  • ECB Says Loan Standards to Tighten as Government Protections End
  • Lotos Soars in Warsaw on Fresh Hopes of Improved Orlen Offer

In FX, the Dollar continues to track broad risk sentiment and has benefited from renewed aversion on latest COVID-19 developments coupled with a further deterioration in US-Chinese relations centring on the South China Sea. As such, the DXY has regrouped to trade back around the 96.500 level within a 96.472-707 band ahead of US CPI data and a raft of Fed speakers awaiting the next daily update from states that are seeing a resurgence in the number of virus infections and fatalities.

  • CHF/JPY/EUR/AUD - All narrowly mixed vs the Greenback, as the Franc and Yen retain an element of safe haven demand near 0.9400 and 107.00 respectively, while the former has pared some of Monday’s relatively heavy declines against the Euro from sub-1.0700 towards 1.0650 even though SNB head Jordan is highly likely to reiterate the importance of direct intervention and NIRP later today. However, the single currency is holding up well in its own right as Eur/Usd consolidates above 1.1300 and eyes hefty option expiry interest at the round number (2.1 bn), between 1.1320-25 (2 bn) and from 1.1350 to 1.1355 (1.3 bn). Similarly, the Aussie is gleaning some underlying traction circa 0.6945 from encouraging Chines trade data plus a firm rebound in NAB business sentiment and conditions to compensate for another incremental rise in pandemic cases in Victoria. Next up for the Jpy and Aud, the end of the 2-day BoJ convene and July consumer sentiment.
  • CAD/NOK/NZD/GBP - The Loonie and Norwegian Krona have both been knocked out of stride by the aforementioned turnaround in tone from bullish to bearish that is also weighing on crude prices, as Usd/Cad rebounds through 1.3600 in advance of Wednesday’s BoC policy meeting and Eur/Nok pivots 10.7300 from sub-10.6000 mtd lows. Similarly, the Kiwi is back on the defensive within a 0.6545-10 range heading into NZ Q2 CPI tonight and Sterling is losing more momentum across the board on a mix of negative factors, as Cable fails to derive any traction from tame improvements in UK activity data and Eur/Gbp remains elevated on ongoing Brexit divisions having reversed/rebounded through 1.2600 and 0.9000 yesterday. Note, market contacts report big buy orders in the cross when 0.9075 was breached, but 0.9100 has capped advances beyond 0.9080 for now.
  • SEK - In contrast to its Scandinavian peer, the Swedish Crown has been inflated by firmer than forecast CPI readings to remain close to 10.4000 and recent highs vs the Euro.

In commodities, WTI & Brent have succumbed to the broader risk-off moves overnight and in Europe this morning, with little fresh for the complex fundamentally out this morning as we await the OPEC monthly oil report. Benchmarks are posting losses just shy of 1% at present as sentiment modestly picks-up in the approach to US hours, with equity futures stateside marginally positive ahead of US earnings season’s full commencement. Returning to the aforementioned OPEC monthly report, aside from their demand outlooks for this year and next, attention will be on any insight into compliance figures for June. As, while we know compliance overall exceeded 100% this was largely due to efforts from Saudi Arabia, UAE & Kuwait and as the likes of Nigeria & Iraq having agreed to over-comply ahead to make up for their shortcomings in recent months this report will be looked at as an indication of just how much overcompliance will be required; and, of course, ahead of tomorrow’s JMMC where further insight into this and guidance on easing production cuts for the immediate period is expected. Further ahead, the weekly private inventory report is expected to print a headline draw of 1.8mln. Turning to metals, spot gold is very much rangebound around the USD 1800/oz handle as the USD has been relatively steady since the volatility around the European equity open & China Foreign Ministry updates. Copper prices remain supported by the strike action commencing in multiple Antofagasta mines over the weekend as reports note the final wage offers have been rejected by supervisors.

US Event Calendar

  • 6am: NFIB Small Business Optimism, est. 97.8, prior 94.4
  • 8:30am: Real Avg Weekly Earnings YoY, prior 7.4%; Real Avg Hourly Earning YoY, prior 6.5%
  • 8:30am: US CPI MoM, est. 0.5%, prior -0.1%; CPI YoY, est. 0.6%, prior 0.1%
  • 8:30am: US CPI Ex Food and Energy MoM, est. 0.1%, prior -0.1%; CPI Ex Food and Energy YoY, est. 1.1%, prior 1.2%

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

Yesterday was the end of an era and the start of a more difficult 15 years to come - at least until the twins leave home. After bedtime has increasingly become an elongated and tortuous nightmare of late we decided that we should abandon their daily 2 hour lunchtime sleep for good. It doesn’t impact me in the week but at weekends this double dose of two hours is a godsend. Makes playing golf a bit easier on the rest of the family for starters. Now those days are gone and negotiations will get tougher.

Markets threw their toys out of the cot before bedtime last night as a strong day turned sour in the last 2.5 hours of trading on the back of renewed US / China tensions and more concerns about the virus spread in the US.

The S&P 500 initially rose roughly +1.5% and briefly reached post-pandemic highs before finishing down -0.94%. The drop came following the dual headlines of record covid-19 hospitalisations and shutdowns in California and the US denouncing China’s claim to the South China Sea. The VIX volatility index rose +4.9pts, the largest one day rise since 11 Jun. It looked like tech outperformance would continue as the NASDAQ had advanced +1.95% to yet another record high in early trading, but then the index saw a roughly -4% turnaround within the last 2 hours of the session to finish at -2.13%. European stocks outperformed having closed well before the reversal in the US, with the STOXX 600 (+1.00%), the DAX (+1.32%) and the CAC 40 (+1.73%) all moving higher. We didn’t get an awful lot of earnings releases yesterday though PepsiCo rose +0.33% on the back of a stronger than expected report, with core EPS of $1.32 (vs. $1.25 expected). We’ll get a lot more results today though, particularly from US financials including JPMorgan, Citigroup and Wells Fargo.

On that, with US Q2 earnings starting in earnest today it was interesting to see our equity strategists report last night that they are set up to notably beat expectations. Their rationale was that earnings expectations flatlined in June in the face of substantial improvements in US macro surprises. The two are well correlated so even with the recent case growth rise, earnings should have had a much better last month of the quarter than analysts were prepared to reflect. See their report here for more.

Overnight Asian markets have tracked Wall Street with the Nikkei (-1.04%), Hang Seng (-1.69%), Shanghai Comp (-1.10%), Kospi (-0.57%) and Asx (-0.83%) all losing ground. Amidst the risk off, the Japanese yen is up +0.11% this morning while the US dollar is up +0.10%. Meanwhile, futures on the S&P 500 are trading flat and crude oil prices are down c. -2%. In terms of overnight data releases, Singapore’s Q2 GDP printed at an annualized -41.2% qoq (vs. -35.9% qoq expected) as peak lockdown took its toll. China also released its June trade data with exports rising by +0.5% yoy (vs. -2.0% yoy expected) while imports came in at +2.7% yoy (vs. -9.7% expected). In terms of trade with the US, YtD June exports were down -11% yoy while imports were down -4.2% yoy bringing the trade balance to USD 121bn (-13.8% yoy).

In other overnight news, Akira Amari, Japan’s ruling party’s tax policy chief, has said that PM Shinzo Abe might call an election this year after putting together another extra budget. He added that “While there’s debate over the timing of a third extra budget, I don’t think we’ll get to the end of the year without doing something.” Elsewhere, top advisers to President Trump have ruled out undermining the Hong Kong dollar’s peg to the greenback as a retaliation to China’s imposition of new security law over the city.

Back to the ongoing rise in new virus cases. Florida saw a further 4.7% rise yesterday, slightly above the previous 7-day average of 4.4%, though in the state’s most populous county of Miami-Dade, the mayor said they weren’t yet planning another lockdown. California reported a record number of people hospitalised with coronavirus with nearly 6,500 on Sunday, as cases continue to trend higher in the state. The state’s largest school districts, Los Angeles and San Diego, will remain fully remote in the autumn. California Governor Newsom rolled back reopenings and ordered all indoor dining, wineries, movie theatres and entertainment to close. Bars and breweries statewide must close all indoor and outdoor operations, while fitness centres, worship services and salons must shut in counties that have been on a monitoring list for three straight days. Meanwhile, here in the UK, face masks will likely be compulsory in all shops in England from July 24 and the move will be enforced by fines of GBP 100 for non-compliance.

We continue to see rises in coronavirus cases in various countries, as well as the imposition of further restrictions. In Hong Kong, there was a noticeably tightening as public gatherings were limited to just 4 people, while gyms and bars were ordered to close for a week with restaurants allowed to offer only takeout from 6 pm to 5 am; and the number of patrons at a table at other times is limited to four. The city also mandated a $645 fine for not wearing a mask, as they reported a further 41 cases yesterday, of which 21 were related to previous clusters and the other 20 were of unknown origins. The city will also require inbound travellers who have been to high-risk regions in the last 14 days to pass a virus test before boarding their flights.

As mentioned above, there was also a further escalation in US-China tensions yesterday. Early in the day, China announced that they were placing sanctions on 4 US individuals, including the Republican Senators and former 2016 presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. It comes after the US placed sanctions on a number of Chinese individuals last week, including Politburo member Chen Quanguo, over Xinjiang. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said yesterday that “Xinjiang is China’s internal affairs and U.S has no right to interfere”. Then last night, the US denounced China’s claim to the South China Sea, reversing a long-held policy of not taking sides in the disputes in the region. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said, “Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them.” Elsewhere, Reuters reported overnight that the Trump administration is planning to abandon a 2013 agreement between US and China auditing authorities. US watchdog PCAOB was already at an impasse with China on inspections.

In some positive market news out of the US, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that his caucus planned to have a draft of the next round of stimulus ready by next week. The plan will be done in conjunction with the White House and will serve as a rebuttal of sorts to the Democrats’ $3.5tr plan that was passed in the House back in May.

Staying on politics, one other dampener yesterday were remarks from Chancellor Merkel, who said that EU positions were still far apart ahead of this Friday’s European Council summit on the recovery fund. She said that “bridges still need to be built” and started to adjust expectations for the outcome by saying a further meeting may be required if no consensus is achieved. The Chancellor, along with Italian Prime Minister Conte, touted the need for the EUR750bn recovery plan to combat the economic fallout of the pandemic. Conte noted that his government is willing to accept tighter criteria for the grants and loans package. This seems to be a concession to the more fiscally conservative nations that have demanded that any funding was attached to a set of conditions.

Back to markets yesterday and the US dollar fell -0.19% to a one-month low, while 10yr Treasuries saw yields down by -2.6bps to 0.618% on the sharp reversal in US equities. Over in Europe, where risk closed higher, the sovereign bonds of core countries were among the biggest losers, with 10yr bunds (+4.8bps), as well as Swiss (+5.9bps) and Dutch (+4.7bps) debt all seeing rising yields. The periphery outperformed however, with Italian (+1.1bps) and Greek (+0.1bps) witnessing smaller increases.

Elsewhere, in the commodities sphere, silver provided the main headline up +1.90% to a 10-month high and within striking distance of a 4 year high. Other metals also had strong performances, with palladium up +1.32% in its best day in nearly 2 weeks, even if gold experienced a more modest +0.23% rise. Copper (+1.91%) rose for a tenth consecutive gain and to its highest level since April 2019. It could be supported further by the possibility of production strikes in Chile. With risk assets under pressure, Brent crude (-1.20%) and WTI (-1.11%) pulled back ahead of OPEC+’s Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee meeting tomorrow where the group is expected to adhere to a plan of tapering the production cuts from August on.

To the day ahead now, and the data highlights from Europe include the May readings of UK GDP and Euro Area industrial production, as well as July’s ZEW survey from Germany. Over in the US, there’ll be the June CPI reading, along with the NFIB small business optimism index. Earnings releases feature a number of US financials, including JPMorgan, Citigroup and Wells Fargo, while we’ll also hear from the Fed’s Brainard and Bullard.

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Tesla rival Stellantis unveils its lowest price electric vehicles

The Big Three automaker unveils details on its low-priced electric vehicles that will be delivered over the next two years.



Electric vehicle manufacturers have realized that the prices of their cars are making it more difficult for many of them to compete against makers of lower-priced internal combustion engine vehicles.

Tesla saw its third quarter deliveries fall below market estimates, prompting Elon Musk's company in early October to lower the list price of the Model 3 from $40,240 to $38,990 and its industry leading seller Model Y has recently fallen from $47,740 to $43,990.

Related: Tesla Japanese rivals debut concept vehicles in latest challenge

Tesla top rival Ford already cut the price of its all-electric Mustang Mach-E by up to $4,000 in May and its F-150 Lightning by about $10,000 in July.

Stellantis revealing entry-level electric cars

Stellantis  (STLA) - Get Free Report has been busy revealing low-priced entry-level electric vehicles that it plans to begin selling in 2024 to compete with French automaker Renault in Europe as well as Chinese EV companies. The company in August said it would unveil a second new entry-level Fiat-branded electric vehicle in July 2024 that will be priced less than €25,000 or about $27,390. The company, however, didn't say when the vehicle might be sold in the U.S.

The company said in June that it will deliver the new Citroën e-C3 electric car to Europe in early 2024. The Citroën e-C3 was expected to have a range of 186 miles on a charge and would be among lowest priced EVs on the market. Stellantis had already said it would bring Fiat's best-selling EV, the Fiat 500e, to the U.S. market in 2024 to compete against Tesla and the growing U.S. EV market.

Citroën e-C3 all-electric subcompact hatchback.


Big Three automaker unveils its low-priced electric vehicles

Stellantis on Oct. 17 revealed its updated all-new, all-electric Citroën e-C3, which is its first European-designed, European-built B-segment, or subcompact, EV hatchback. The new vehicle is now estimated to have a 199-mile range, charging 20% to 80% of capacity in as little as 26 minutes. The EV accelerates 0 to 62 mph in 11 seconds with a provisional top speed of 84 mph for everyday driving and traffic in urban and suburban areas.

The company estimates that the vehicle will be priced below £23,000 ($27,900) in the UK. No word yet if the Citroën e-C3 will roll out in the U.S.

In 2025, Stellantis will offer a Citroën e-C3 with a 200 km- or 124-mile range and priced at €19,990 or $21,068, the company said. That price would be lower than any new EV sold in the U.S. today. General Motors  (GM) - Get Free Report Chevy Bolt's lowest manufacturer suggest retail price is $26,500, while the 2024 Nissan  (NSANY) - Get Free Report Leaf has a starting price of $28,140.

The new Citroën e-C3 will be available in three versions You, Plus and Max. The You version's standard equipment includes LED headlights, Citroën Advanced Comfort Suspension, Active Safety Brake, the new Citroën Head Up Display, ‘My Citroen Play with Smartphone Station’ for infotainment, electric door mirrors, auto lighting, rear parking radar, rear spoiler, cruise control, manual air conditioning, and six airbags.

Plus vehicles include 17-inch alloy wheels, Citroën’s two-tone paint with contrasting roof, decorative roof rails, front and rear skid plates, the 10.25-inch color touchscreen with smartphone mirroring, Citroën Advanced Comfort Seats, auto wipers, power-folding and heated door mirrors, leather-effect steering wheel, 60/40 folding second-row seat, and driver seat adjustment.

The premium Max version additionally has LED rear lights, rear privacy glass, enhanced seat textiles, automatic air conditioning, 3D navigation, wireless charging, rear camera, electrochrome rear-view mirror, and rear power windows.

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Putin, Xi In Beijing Pitch For ‘Alternative World Order’ As Biden Departs A Burning Middle East

Putin, Xi In Beijing Pitch For ‘Alternative World Order’ As Biden Departs A Burning Middle East

As a Rabobank note has highlighted, the main…



Putin, Xi In Beijing Pitch For 'Alternative World Order' As Biden Departs A Burning Middle East

As a Rabobank note has highlighted, the main theme on display during Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin's Wednesday talks in Beijing was one of "common threats" bringing the two "dear friends" closer, according to a press readout. Observed Rabobank earlier in the day, "Meanwhile, as the Middle East rages and the West recoils, Xi Jinping welcomes Russia’s Putin and a host of Global South leaders, ex-India, to his Beijing Belt and Road Forum to talk about what an alternative world order might look like. The ‘global’ Western press mostly failed to even cover it."

Putin said at a media briefing following the meeting with his Chinese counterpart, "We discussed in detail the situation in the Middle East." He added: "I informed Chairman (Xi) about the situation that is developing on the Ukrainian track, also quite in detail." The Russian leader then emphasized: 

"All these external factors are common threats, and they strengthen Russian-Chinese interaction."

AFP/Getty Images

CNN subsequently called it a "pitch for a new world order" at a moment crisis has gripped the Middle East.

Yet, almost simultaneously, Bloomberg reported that Biden is overseeing a fast unfolding disaster in the Middle East:

President Joe Biden’s 7.5-hour trip to Tel Aviv signaled full US backing for Israel but fell short on another key goal: winning over Arab leaders.

Amid growing signs the conflict may be spinning out of control, Biden made plain that the US will protect its ally, sending a clear message to rivals in the region like Iran to stay out of the fight. With one US aircraft carrier in the area and another on the way, Biden promised a new package of “unprecedented support.”

The Bloomberg headline aptly reads, "Biden’s Whirlwind Israel Trip Fails to Calm Fears of Wider Middle East Conflict." At this time, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt are on edge - with Western and Saudi embassies reducing staff and issuing travel advisories. 

Meanwhile, related to Xi's Belt and Road (the purpose of the gathering in Beijing), Putin praised the potential for it to usher in a "fairer, multi-polar world" as Moscow and Beijing grow closer based on "deep friendship"

In his speech at the opening ceremony, Putin hailed Xi’s flagship foreign policy Belt and Road Initiative as “aiming to form a fairer, multi-polar world,” while touting his country’s deep alignment with China.

Russia and China share an “aspiration for equal and mutually beneficial cooperation,” which includes “respecting civilization diversity and the right of every state for their own development model” – he added, in an apparent push back against calls for authoritarian leaders to promote human rights and political freedoms at home.

This is at a moment Putin is "wanted" by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and shunned and sanctioned by the West, while at the same time Global South countries are expressing growing anger at Israel's unrelenting bombing of the Gaza Strip, as the Palestinian death toll soars into the thousands.

Directly related to this, a Thursday UN Security Council resolution brought by Brazil and seeking a ceasefire in Gaza was shot down, given the US was the only "no" vote.

Also missed by the mainstream media was the following pro-China sentiment expressed by a top Palestinian official over a week ago:

China will soon lead the world, and it supports the “Palestinian position, whatever it may be,” according to Fatah’s Central Committee member Abbas Zaki.

In a public address that aired on Palestine TV on Sept. 29, Abbas Zaki called on the United States to “reconsider its stance” with regard to Israel or risk becoming irrelevant. The Israelis, he said, were “sons of bitches,” “murderers” and agents of instability, while the Palestinians are “messengers of peace.”

“I know that there is serious change in Europe and even in the United States,” said Zaki.

But, he added, “do not forget the emerging camp, which is on your side—the Chinese camp. China is going to lead the world, and it proclaims: ‘There can be no stability and progress without the liberation of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital.'”

Putin too, has expressed more sympathies with the Palestinian side, days ago warning Israel of the "catastrophic" death toll its attacks on Gaza will result in. He has also held calls with Arab leaders, seeking to mediate peace and a possible two-state solution.

Tyler Durden Wed, 10/18/2023 - 19:40

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Survey delivers bleak news for remote workers

Remote work is increasingly under fire.



Covid-era alternative work solutions have come under fire as businesses increasingly deploy a carrot-and-stick approach to convincing employees to return to offices.

Technology titan Meta Platforms  (META) - Get Free Report, which owns Facebook, threatened poor performance reviews if workers failed to attend offices three times weekly. JP Morgan Chase  (JPM) - Get Free Report CEO Jamie Dimon recently suggested workers uncomfortable with returning to offices should look for employment elsewhere.

Workers don’t like the idea of giving up the flexibility afforded by remote work, but a recent survey shows that these workers may face an uphill battle if they hope to continue working from home.

A woman working on a laptop in a cafe, on Sept. 14, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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Remote work loses its luster

Companies big and small rushed to offer flexible alternative work schedules like remote and hybrid work during Covid. Remote work quickly became a key benefit used to fill jobs created by those who took early retirement and newly created positions in response to demand growth fueled by easy-money policies.

Related: Facebook issues more tough-luck news to workers

Remote work initially appeared to be a win/win for companies and employees. It allowed businesses to source job candidates nationally rather than locally and sometimes save money by closing expensive offices. Meanwhile, workers could live in the suburbs rather than crowded cities and save money by eliminating expensive childcare costs.

Unfortunately, the love affair with remote work has soured over the past year.

Businesses, from technology to financial services, have rolled back remote work, citing a need for increased collaboration and greater productivity. Many companies have likely sought to reduce the number of remote workers as part of layoff plans or to fill otherwise vacant office spaces.

Businesses are winning the return-to-office battle

Worker surveys suggest employees prefer remote work. However, they’re losing the battle with employers demanding more office face time.

The Census Bureau’s latest Household Pulse Survey shows remote work has reached a new post-pandemic low, with declines seen in all 50 states, reports Bloomberg.

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The survey showed that fewer than 26% of households include someone who works remotely at least one day weekly. That’s a significant drop-off from the high of 37% in 2021. A total of 31 states had remote work rates above 33% at the peak. Now, only seven states exceed that hurdle.

States with the highest percentages of remote workers are typically Democratic states, mainly on the east and west coasts. Middle America and the South boast some of the lowest rates of remote work.

There’s also a more significant push for a return to office (RTO) in major metro markets where office building valuations are tumbling because of empty offices. During its recent quarterly conference call, Goldman Sachs  (GS) - Get Free Report told investors that it reduced valuations on office properties in its portfolio by 50%.

The impact of lower valuations on financial companies could contribute to the stricter return to office demands. Big banks like JP Morgan have been among the most vocal in demanding RTO, and they’re also heavily exposed to commercial real estate.

For instance, in addition to loans held on commercial properties, JP Morgan is building a new multibillion-dollar headquarters in New York City.

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